After a 2-years hiatus, 3 Piccoli Elefanti started back up with a new location, new language (Ciao, Italiano!) and new family member. It’s been two years since the Ridgeways lived in Northern Italy, but we’ve grown by one and found a new home that, unlike our native California, has four seasons.

To be honest, this whole thing is one big PR bid to get family and friends to follow us out here. You know who you are!


Ahem, it’s a metaphor. We’d like to be big, strong and clever. But we’re still just blundering through this thing. Check out my girls’ favoriteĀ San Diego Zoo video for a visual (whoa! wobbly legs!).


We arrived in the Italian Alps on December 31, 2009 for my husband to pursue his PhD in Computer Science. We spoke zero Italian. We had no place to live. It was very cold. Our 10-month-old daughter had no snow suit. Or shoes. After a long year, we’re pulling ourselves together, and I’m ready to write about it. This is the story of our first year in Italy… and why it was almost our last.


6 Responses to About

  1. John Rissetto says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    My family and I (wife, and two young sons 2 and 4) just moved to Trento while my wife conducts at 1 1/2 year post-doc at FBK. We would love hear more about your time in Trento and the region.
    All the best, and looking forward to your response.
    John R.

  2. pfilippi says:

    Hello Jennifer,
    I came upon your blog by chance. I am Italian but have lived in the “good old USA” for the last seven years. Our family is moving to Trento in about three weeks, mostly because my husband wants to get back once more (the more romantic one). Anyway, I would love to correspond a bit about your experience there (in Trento in particular) to get some “perspective”. If you are interested in and can take the time to answer a few questions, my email is below.

  3. jungmee says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    My husband (Italian from Milano) and I will be moving to Milano in January 2016 and will be exporting my 2007 Mini Cooper Convt (for the same reasons as yours). I am really sorry to hear about your nightmare with the car and I will definitely be taking off one of the license plates before putting the car in the shipping container.

    We’ve contacted Mini Italia to get an idea of what kind of parts I need to change on my US Mini to be street legal in Italy and they have not been helpful. Do you remember what kind of modifications you had to make on your Mini?

    Thanks for your help in advance!

    • JGR says:

      Hi Jungmee,

      We never got to the point of having to make any changes to our car. Based on the specifications that I saw at the time, the only difference was some kind of toggle switch for headlights, and since we had fog lights on our MINI I doubt we would have needed it. In other words, you should have very little to do, and perhaps your local motorizzazione won’t require anything. When the car arrives, you’ll take the customs paperwork to motorizzazione and set up an appointment to have the car looked at by a local mechanic. That piece of paper will either declare the car street legal or list required repairs/upgrades. The best advice I can give you is to contact the motorizzazione in Milano now to determine what THEY require–including if they even know how to do an American import. Our motorizzazione was 100% unwilling to file the paperwork, and so we never did get Italian registration. In Italy, whoever is in charge locally interprets the rules.

      Best of luck with your move! Milan is lovely!

  4. Jessica says:

    Hi, I stumbled across your blog while doing research on expats in Trento, Italy. I’m a Californian looking to pursue a PhD in Italy. It looks like you did the same thing, but it doesn’t sound like you had a good experience (since you left before the course was completed.) I’d love to pick your brain and hopefully learn from your mistakes! Best, Jessica

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